For several glorious weeks at the beginning of Spring, March Madness takes center stage. For many, filling out a bracket is basically a rite of passage into springtime.
As legal sports betting options continue to expand, filling out a bracket isn’t your only option. While there are lots of advanced theories on the best way to bet on March Madness, you can also keep it simple.
How to bet on March Madness
When it’s time for March Madness, you won’t be lacking options for bets to place. There are 67 games in the tournament, and plenty of wagers you can place on each. Here’s a quick look at the standard options at online sportsbook sites:
- Moneylines: For an individual game, bet on one of the teams to win. The favorite will have negative odds, and the underdog will usually be positive. If your pick wins the game, you’ll be cashing a ticket.
- Point spreads: The spread is essentially an estimated difference between the two teams in a game. It’s a number that serves as a handicap to the favorite and a boost to the underdog. The team that you back must outperform that number to cover the spread.
- Over/unders: Wager on the total number of points in a game. Oddsmakers set a line before the game, and you can wager on the actual total being over or under that amount.
- Alternate lines: An alternate line is a variation of the main spread or total. Each game typically offers many options, with the odds varying based on how far the choice departs from the main lines. This is also known as buying or selling points.
- Props: A prop is basically a side bet, such as who will score the first basket or which team will score a certain number of points first.
- Parlays: You can put together multi-leg wagers from several games or create a parlay with picks from just a single game. A parlay is a bet with two or more choices on one slip. You have to get all of your picks right to win. One single slip-up means your parlay loses.
- Live bets: Bet on a game as it takes place. Live betting moves really fast with frequently shifting odds and bets to choose from.
- Futures: Before the tournament even gets underway, you can place bets on the national title winner, the team to win each region and more. March Madness futures are usually pretty active and filled with possibilities.
From the offseason through to the national title game, there are plenty of live sports betting odds for March Madness betting. It’s a busy time for online sportsbooks, and they aim to please with lots of bets. Here are three easy ones to dive into.
3 easiest March Madness bets to focus on
While there will be plenty of March Madness odds out there, you can narrow the field considerably by focusing on what you like. Here are three simple March Madness bets that don’t take a lot of time:
1. Moneyline bets on top seeds in the first round
A top seed in one of the four regions has lost exactly once in the first round in March Madness history. Teams that are seeded two, three and four have great overall track records, too, but the occasional upset does happen.
If you’re looking for bets to be confident about, moneyline bets on top squads in the first round are a good option. However, the odds likely won’t be great and sometimes won’t even be worth it, so choose your spots wisely.
2. Futures bets on the March Madness winner
In advance of the tournament — and even as it plays out — you can pick a team to win the whole thing. This is a solid way to get in on the excitement of March Madness without stressing out too much over individual results.
For one approach, you could pick a favorite and sleeper before the tournament begins. If your teams get knocked out early, you still have time to take another crack or two in advance of the Sweet 16, Elite Eight or Final Four.
3. Race to 20 points for games you’re into
This is a fun bet for the games that you plan on watching anyway. It’s a prop bet on which team will score 20 points first. If your team hits the mark, you win.
Sportsbooks also have variations — race to 15, 25, etc. — but 20 is a good sweet spot. If you’ve analyzed the game and think you know which side will start out fastest, this can be a fun wager.
While all of the above bets are simple to implement, don’t mistake that to mean that they’ll always win. There is no such thing when it comes to betting, as anything can happen. However, the simple approach can sometimes be the most profitable in the long run.
Picking the right March Madness bets to place
For three weeks every March, college basketball betting is even bigger than normal. There are lots of ways to bet, so here are some tactics to find the best bets for you:
- Set your game plan and budget: Before the tournament begins, make sure you have a clear betting budget in place. Next, decide how you plan to attack the proceedings. Is there a specific day or round you want to focus on? Any teams that you know you want to bet on or against? By having a plan in place, the range of options won’t seem so overwhelming.
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses: It’s important to understand not only how you like to bet, but also which bets tend to work best for your approach. For example, if you don’t seem to do well with over/unders, instead focus on the wagers that work best for you and your betting strategy.
- Narrow the field down to a shortlist: You’re looking at 67 games on which to bet during March Madness. There’s no need to try to fit them all in. In fact, a focused approach can often lead to improved decision-making. When you scroll through the schedule, pick a few games to focus on.
While cashing a bunch of wins for March Madness bets is easier said than done, we can inch closer to success by following the above steps.
Tips for betting on March Madness
Having a successful run through the tourney isn’t the easiest task for bettors. Here are a few tips:
- Fill out your bracket: Even if you’re not in any March Madness bracket contests, fill one out anyway. By completing the bracket, you may get a better feel for how it might all play out, as well as potential trouble spots. While a lot of the betting will be on single games, there’s still a benefit to having a big-picture view of the tournament as a whole.
- Pick your spots: While you can certainly bet on every game of March Madness if you’d like, such an approach often isn’t the best. As opposed to doing that, focus on the games and teams that appeal to you the most. You can devote your research efforts there. The time savings is a huge benefit, and this approach can also help you find your optimal betting plays.
- Look for momentum: Momentum matters in competitive athletics. While researching the field and individual matchups, take the time to note who’s hot or not.
When college hoops take over the spotlight each March, there’s plenty to ponder as you try to predict how things will play out. Research and due diligence are great, but overkill is not. The easiest approach can sometimes turn out to be the best.